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Getting a Food Service Job

Getting a food service job may seem like common sense, but in today’s job market getting hired is anything but a slam dunk. This article offers a few nuggets that may give you the edge getting your next job.

Getting hired is a matter of selling yourself. To close the sale and get the job, you must first understand the needs of the person you are trying to impress.

In food service, these needs are pretty obvious, but commonly overlooked by job seekers. Employers want:

1) People who add value to their business
2) People who reflect favorably toward their customers
3) Predictability

Let's look into these in greater detail.

1) People who add value to their business

Owners invest money in buildings, equipment, inventory and people with the aim to earn a profit. From your standpoint, this means to be valuable to the business, you must earn more for the business than you cost.

When applying for a job, think of ways you can be more valuable to a potential employer. For example, if you are applying for a cook position, also point out that you have good customer service skills and counter experience and are willing to help out counter staff or fill in whenever possible. In the past you’ve done training and can assist with the training functions. Making employers aware of ways you can add value in other ways may not only distinguish you from others, but employers will see you as a partner in their efforts to build their business

People who reflect favorably toward their business

Without sales, no business can succeed. It is important that you show employers that you understand the importance of sales and that you can expand their business by either producing a quality product or providing quality service. That is, you can be a reason for customers to spend money at this food service establishment. Specifically, employers want employees who:
- are clean
- are well-groomed
- smile a lot
- demonstrate positive attitudes
- show kindness and consideration, especially toward customers
- can accept criticism as a way to improve.

A few tidbits:
- Show up to your interview looking sharp. Avoid casualwear (e.g. t-Shirts, tank tops, shorts, jeans with holes, etc.). Collared shirts, slacks or dresses can score you a lot of points.


Employers want things to work smoothly and according to plan. They dislike events that will disrupt daily activities (e.g. inappropriate business behaviors, hassles, attitudes or drama) and will be making those assessments during the hiring process.
- Are you someone the employer can trust?
- Can you leave the baggage and the drama at home?
- Are you reliable and punctual?
- Do you understand appropriate business conduct?
- Does the employer see you as a kind, gentle person or someone who is overly aggressive.

A few tidbits:
a) Be on time. Showing up late to an interview is almost always a non-starter. Make sure during your interview that the employer knows you are punctual and reliable.
b) Don't talk about personal problems. Interviewers don't care and it only makes you appear as if you have baggage that will affect your performance in the workplace.
c) Stay positive and focus the message on how you can add value to their business.
d) Don't put down people. Avoid name-calling. Stick to facts. You do not want to appear you are someone who will cause problems among co-workers.
e) Avoid vulgar language, off-color topics (e.g. sex, drugs) and other hot-button topics (e.g. politics and religion). These demonstrate behaviors that can be problematic in the workplace.
f) Avoid making excuses. It is generally better to admit your failings and demonstrate that you have learned from your mistakes and are committed to improving than to suggest issues were always someone else's fault.

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